Warwick Shinner, host of
Warwick Shinner, host of "Swaparama" was pictured here in The Pimlico Hilton. Photo Patrick Gorbunovs / The Northern Star Patrick Gorbunovs

Pimlico's legendary collector remembered

THE wife and daughter of legend collector and Swamparama host, Warwick Shinner, want him to be remembered as the "charismatic" man he was at a special service next month.

Sadly, Warwick Mervyn Shinner passed away in Ballina due to heart complications on August 10. He was 78-years-old.

But to celebrate Warwick's life, daughter Elaine Bricknell said the family had set aside a special day to hold public service for him on November 11, and invited anyone who knew him or wished to pay their respects to attend.

"November 11 has always been Dad's favourite day, not only was it was his birthday, it was also Remembrance Day which was a special day for him because he served in the National Service as a young man," Mrs Bricknell said.

"So we decided that this was the best day to celebrate his life."

It was his shared life-long passion for collecting with wife Gwenda coupled with his fascination for beer cans that led him to organise the first the annual beer can swap meet Swamparama in 1984. The event was a joint meeting between the Queensland and NSW Divisions of Beer Can Collectors and was first held on the couple's property in Pimlico. It was known as the second biggest beer can collectors event in the nation, drawing collectors from all over the world, and was held annually for another 30 years, boasting a different theme each year.

Swamparama co-host and wife Gwenda said Warwick loved running the event and that she loved running it with him.

"He was very proud and would work really hard to make the Swamparamas really memorable for everyone," Gwenda said.

"Warwick's own collection of beer cans numbers were more than 30,000."

But beer cans were just a drop in the ocean of the couple's collection which covered everything from more than 10,000 individual labelled shells, a swathe of military memorabilia and even a fake blossom tree used in a Japanese beer ad he famously bought for $1.

Born on November, 11, 1939 at Kogarah, NSW to parents Henry Mervyn Shinner and Rita Jean (Webb) Shinner, Warwick had one younger brother named John.

While at school, Warwick became an avid collector, starting out with collecting stamps. He whirled through high school at Kogarah Intermediate High School and started his career in the Venetian Blind Industry, which led him to meet his match, a shell collector named Gwenda. It was 1962 and Gwenda's twin sister Judy was working in the Venetian Blind factory in Carlton for Warwick and when she left to get married, Gwenda replaced her and the love story began.

The couple married on September, 28, 1963 and embarked on their journey of collecting together. They went on to and two children into the world, Elaine and brother Ashley.

"We started collecting shells together on our honeymoon on the Great Barrier Reef," Gwenda said.

"That was 55 years ago at the end of September - we didn't quite make it to our 55th anniversary.

"Then we became a bit crazy I suppose. We started getting a passion for collecting everything and that's exactly what we did.

"But his most treasured item he collected in his life was definitely me," she chuckled.

The couple found their dream property in 1983 - a 30 acre property at Pimlico, 12 kilometres south of Ballina on the NSW north coast which they named 'Pimlico Hilton'.

In 1993 the Shinner's built a small museum in the shape of a giant shed, 80ft by 60ft, on their property at Pimlico to house the collectables and the 15,000 beer cans collected from around the world since Mr Shinner was a young man. They called it MOCAT - Museum of Collectables and Technology.

They began to fill MOCAT to the brim with every type of collectable item imaginable and old technology.

"A great time for us was when we were on the Aussie Pickers show - and showed them around MOCAT," she said.

"It was our 50th wedding anniversary then too."

Gwenda said she was still collecting and MOCAT was now only accessible to the public by invitation only.

"Warwick loved spending time in MOCAT," she said.

"He also loved spending time with our children and grandchildren."

Mrs Bricknell said she would never forget when she asked her dad for a bush dance to celebrate her 21st birthday.

"He cleared away all the machinery from his factory, bought in heaps of hay bales and a bush band, and gave me a birthday party of a lifetime," she said.

"He was such a giving man especially to his family."

She said he loved gardening, especially at home.

"He was a very organised person, driven and he was very focussed - when he has something that he wanted to do, he worked on it until it got done.

"He had a lot of friends, mum is still receiving got lots and lots of cards, he will be missed greatly."

No stranger to the media, Gwenda and Warwick featured in several stories run in The Northern Star Newspaper, predominately for their Museum MOCAT and for Swamparama

To see just how packed MOCAT was with collectables: watch The Shinner's featuring in the TV series 'Aussie Pickers', Season 1 Episode 2 in 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=laLbvgd5QRc

The service for Warwick will be held on November 11, from 10am at 39 Laws Rd, Pimlico. 

 

His many other life achievements were:

  • 1957 - He managed De Luxe Venetians, Carlton.
  • He was called-up for National Service with the Citizen Military Forces and was required to present for service at the Army Training Depot, Burrows Street, Arncliffe on May 13, 1959. His period of training was for 77 days as a gunner.
  • In 1962 Warwick managed Kalie Blind & Awning Company in Montgomery Street, Kogarah for Bill Young.
  • 1965 - Warwick contract fitted for Shademaster. Later that year he bought into Even-Lite Blinds and Amalgamated Awnings in Carlton.
  • In 1966 Warwick and Gwenda bought a house at 27 Hurstville Road, Hurstville Grove.
  • Warwick served on the Venetian Blind Manufacturers Association committee and was president for many years.
  • Warwick spent years building a boat in the back of the Venetian Blind Factory in Carlton. He named it Amphiprioninae (Clownfish). It was launched at the Deepwater Motorboat Club in Milperra with lots of onlookers, but it almost sank on its maiden voyage. In 1979 after being fascinated, together with his father and brother, with beer cans, Warwick discovered and joined the Australasian Beer Can Collectors Association - #051. He then went on to help form the NSW Division and held various committee positions. He was awarded Life Membership in 1990 (as shown below) and the Mike Pinkard Award in 2013.
  • 1981 - Warwick joined the Historic Militaria Collectors Association.
  • 1982 - Warwick became a Justice of the Peace
  • SWAmPARMA was first held in Pimlico in 1984 - a joint meeting between the Queensland and NSW Divisions of Beer Can Collectors took place on the Queensland long weekend in May with about 70 members and associates. The term 'Swamp' stems from the low-lying nature of the property and also from the high rainfall experienced in this part of NSW. 'SWAmPARAMA' was written in capital letters with a small 'm' to further highlight that the event is in fact a 'swap' event, as in the swapping of beer cans. Activities were held such as 'Mr Beer Belly', beer tasting competition, Ladies Rolling Pin Throwing contest and Mens Cowpat Throwing. Reluctantly due to age and health the last one was held in 2013. There were many themes at 'SWAmPARAMA'
  • In 1997 Warwick sold his blindmaking business along with the family home and retired to Pimlico.
  • Warwick joined the Ballina RSL Sub-Branch and marched at various ANZAC day marches.
  • 2005 - Warwick was awarded the Meryl Rogers Memorial Trophy at the Pimlico Ladies Charitable Organisation Flower Show for a wheel barrow full of succulents.


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